It has been 974 days since the May 2011 tornado struck Joplin.
But there are still families in need of assistance, according to Jerrod Hogan, co-founder of Rebuild Joplin. And in the spirit of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, he called Monday on the Joplin community to find and respond to those needs.
“Whatever your passion is, please do what you can with what you have,” he said.
Hogan was the featured speaker at Missouri Southern State University’s annual MLK Day breakfast, which kicks off the university’s Day of Service celebrations. More than 230 people were expected to attend this year, and the university canceled classes and closed its campus in observance of the federal holiday.
Faustina Abrahams, first-year adviser coordinator and chairwoman of the university’s diversity committee, said the goal of the breakfast was to inspire people to follow in King’s footsteps by volunteering and serving their community.
“We celebrate the day by recognizing what he did and taking it another step,” she said.
Hogan urged those in attendance to serve Joplin — not only to honor King’s legacy, but also because of the thousands of individuals and organizations that served this community after the tornado.
Taking a trip down memory lane, Hogan highlighted some of the groups that have given of their time, energy and resources to help Joplin recover and rebuild: companies with no corporate presence in Joplin, including Toyota, Farmers Insurance and UPS; disaster recovery teams, such as Mennonite Disaster Service and the Jewish Disaster Response Corps; and AmeriCorps, which still has about 30 full-time volunteers working in Joplin.
“I hope what you hear today is that there was an urgent need ... and that need was responded to from people across the world,” he said.
Hogan said that although much progress has been made since the tornado, including the 114 homes that Rebuild Joplin has completed, there are still up to 100 families that need home repairs or rebuilding.
“I’ve been inspired by the numerous individuals who have come to love on our community, but there’s still a little bit left to do,” he said. “The work is not done.”
Missouri Southern’s Day of Service events continue through Wednesday. Those events include:
• A volunteer fair from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. today on the second floor of Billingsly Student Center. Local volunteer and nonprofit organizations will be on hand with information about service opportunities in the community.
• Speeches by King impersonator Greenfair “Brother” Moses III on Wednesday. Moses will present “Let Freedom Ring” at 1 p.m. and “A Knock at Midnight” at 7 p.m., both in Corley Auditorium in Webster Hall. Both presentations are free and open to the public.
Day of Service
CONGRESS IN 1994 designated Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a federal holiday since 1983, as a national Day of Service in King’s honor.